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Dear Lightweights, Don’t Neglect Your Top Game

Dear Lightweights,

If you take a look at any recent tournament footage you begin to see certain trends in different age and weight divisions.

For example a few weeks ago the masters/seniors worlds were broadcast and “budoJake” was quoted on his show “this week in bjj” saying he thinks he saw maybe three berimbolos a few reverse delarivas and a lot more emphasis on standing even from guys who clearly had no idea what they were doing on the feet.

Why is this ?

The logical answer is because older grapplers in general tend to be a lot less flexible and value more of the traditional positions. This same idea of trends can be applied across the board.

One subject I like to speak about as someone who competes as a light-feather or feather weight ( depending on if I feel like dieting) is the tendencies of lightweights to develop a really strong guard, but to neglect our top game. This makes sense though, as the lighter guys in the academy we find it easier to pull guard and try for submissions rather than to try and manage a takedown or work for a  sweep. However I believe it is a big mistake that many of us make and will ultimately work against us.

Self Defence

  Of the many reasons light weights need to work on out top game is for the real life self- defense scenario. In the street if we are the victim on an assault it is far more useful to be able to use top pressure to control and de-escalate a violent situation rather than be forced to defend from the bottom (although this is also fairly easy with an untrained aggressor).

Well Rounded

   My next reason is more philosophical in nature. As BJJ practitioners shouldn’t we be great in every situation? I have heard stories about blackbelts who have a phenomenal guard or top game, but completely lack the other. To me a light weight should not only be able to teach a heavy weight how to use his weight, but should be able to show him by example. This is not to say the very high level guys do not have a complete game because they do. But there are always certain positions that are weaker than others and for us little guys it is typically our top positions.

Tournament Strategy

My last and most interesting reason I believe lightweights need to work more top game is the strategic advantage it provides in competition. I know this initially sounds like backwards logic, but just think about it., if you become as good at passing as you do at maintaining guard are you not more dangerous? If you as a lightweight(or below) are very comfortable passing and your opponent is most comfortable with their guard and then you pass. You have then shut down their best position, and if you are also good with side mount attacks the situation becomes even more in your favor. All the mean while if you are swept you can still rely on your own guard.

So if you are below 170lbs or even above, play more top game or even vice-verse. Lets all become the best we can be.

About the author: Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt under Anibal Lobo and Pedro Sauer.

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